Global slime craze sparks safety warnings after borax blamed for burns
30th April 2017
A global craze sparked by social media has prompted safety concerns over the use of the cleaning product borax. Also known as sodium borate, borax has a range of household uses including as an insecticide, a stain remover and a deodoriser. It is also a pivotal ingredient of slime, a perennial art or science project in which it is mixed with water, glue and food colouring.
Slime has recently undergone a global resurgence, with Google searches climbing steadily in the past 12 months and accelerating this year. In February, Elmer’s Glue said an increase in sales in the US in the second half of 2016 were “due in large part to slime mania” and, in March, Today reported that schools around the US had banned slime for being “too distracting” and messy. Borax, a naturally occurring mineral, is also a mild irritant and there have been concerns over children’s safety following reports of it inducing burns.
An girl in Rockland, Massachusetts, suffered second and burns to her hands that were attributed to prolonged exposure to borax after making slime every day for several months. “I love it, a lot,” the girl told local news media of slime in March. “Don’t make it, don’t play with it.
” In February, a Manchester woman posted photos of chemical burns on her daughter’s hands on Facebook as a warning to other parents. It was shared 820 times. “My little Queen has been making slime off YouTube .
.. 3 weeks later we are looking at plastic surgery on her hands from a burns department at Hospital,” she wrote.
According to the Environmental Working Group, borax can have short and health effects, with irritation possible following skin or eye contact, inhalation or ingestion. In the long term, it may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system, with chronic exposure to high doses of borax linked to a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido. Kate Copping of Melbourne told Guardian Australia her daughter, Daisy, started making slime about six months ago after having come across it on YouTube.
“She has been making it nonstop. We are going to buy glue constantly. ” Copping said borax was “kind of like a poison” but said nothing had worked so well to produce slime.
“We tried a few different things. In the end I gave in and bought the borax. ” Copping said the craze was popular among Daisy’s school friends but she realised it was a worldwide phenomenon only after she vented her frustration with the messy fad on Facebook.
“I’ve got a friend in Scotland who’s like ‘I’m so sick of it’ friends in the US saying the same thing — it’s going crazy everywhere,” she said. “I’ve heard at some schools, kids are making it and selling it in the playground. ” Anecdotal reports suggested that several branches of the Australian hardware store Bunnings had sold out of borax, which retails for A$9.
40 for a 1kg tub. Its Cairns store held a “ DIY workshop” with “Naomi in aisle 38” in early April describing mixing glue and borax as “a great way to keep the kids entertained”. A spokeswoman for Bunnings said it was against company policy to comment on product sales.
The craze has been facilitated by social media, with 4. 2m results for “slime tutorial” on YouTube. One video has been viewed 10.
1m times since it was posted on YouTube on 4 March. There are 2. 8m posts hashtagged #slime on Instagram, and several dedicated accounts — @slimequeeens’ “kinda satisfying slime videos” have been followed by 864, 000 people since its first post in June.
It also sells slime through an online marketplace. A slime creator followed by 524, 000 people told New York Magazine’s Select All in April that she spent more than 20 hours a week making slime, in between school and homework: “The only reason I sell slime is so I can make more slime. ” Creative spins on the original recipe of borax and glue, achieving different effects, textures and consistencies — such as “MAGICAL UNICORN SLIME” with glitter or “Kawaii Coffee Slime with REAL Coffee” — abound online.
But most experimentation in the online slime community has been with a view to perfecting the holy grail: slime. Alternative recipes that do not contain borax, using contact lens solution, hand sanitiser, liquid starch, shaving foam and even butter, have been widely shared online. But Dr Kyran Quinlan, the chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told Good Housekeeping that borax was “generally safe”.
The craze had reached his own family, he said: “I love that kids are having fun with slime . ..
We have some newly made slime at the house now, thanks to one of the kids. ”.
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